A Wreath for Emmett Till

by Marilyn Nelson

illus. by Philippe Lardy

Brief Summary: This book is a heroic crown of sonnets about the tragedy of Emmett Till and the repercussions his murder made around the world and throughout history. Beautifully illustrated, the book captures the many swirling emotions of this horrible act.

Kell’s Chatty Review: This is, obviously, a heart-wrenching set of sonnets. I only was vaguely aware of the history of Emmett Till and to see it presented so beautifully almost made it more tragic. Also, I was only vaguely associated with the concept of sonnets, and certainly had no idea what a heroic crown of sonnets was, so that made the book interesting from a literary point of view.

For me: as a mostly unaware reader, the historical information at both the beginning and the end was really, really well done. The prologue, if you will, didn’t give away enough information to make the poems less haunting, and the end note added more punch to the emotions that were stirred by the initial sonnets.

A heroic crown of sonnets: as an FYI, because I certainly didn’t know, is a set of 15 sonnets, with the final line of each individual sonnet making up the first line of the following sonnets (hence the “crown”), and the 15th sonnet is made up of all the previous 14 sonnet’s first lines. This makes the book an extremely quick read, also. So much so I had to read it twice.

Illustrations: were done beautifully. They were bold and used striking colors, really complementing the emotions each sonnet held.

What I most wanted to do after reading this book: to be frank, I literally was reading this book between tornado sirens last night. So I literally wanted to go to the basement. Later, however, I would wikipedia the Emmett Till page to read more about this terrible event.

Where this book came from: The Library.


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